Here's Why Your Workplace Needs a Water Balloon Battle

Jul 8, 2019

Here's Why Your Workplace Needs a Water Balloon Battle

Jul 8, 2019

The posters displayed at the Bruce Hammock Alumni Lab Reunion last August in the UC Davis Conference Center epitomized state-of-the-art scientific research.   Typical of the posters, all by Hammock lab affiliates:

  • "Insect Gut--Pathogen Molecular Interactions" by Bryony C. Bonning, University of Florida
  • "A New Assay to Screen for the Inhibitory Capacity of Air Pollutant Components on Antioxidant Enzyme Activities" by Norbert Stainer, Arthur Cho and Ralph Delfino, UC Irvine and UCLA
  • "From Steriod to Non-Steroid: Discovery of Nonsteroidal Brassinolide-Like Compound" by Yoshiaki Nakagawa, Kyoto University, Japan

And then there was this poster: "Health Benefits of Water Balloon Fights."

Yes, you read that right: "Health Benefits of Water Balloon Battles." It was the brainchild of researcher Christophe Morisseau of the Hammock lab, who added humor to the weekend-long reunion that drew 100 laboratory alumni from 10 countries: former graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, collaborators, colleagues and other researchers. They gathered to honor their mentor and reminiscence.  They know Bruce Hammock as a UC Davis distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Comprehensive Cancer Center, and who directs the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)-UC Davis Superfund Research Program. They know him as "a genius" with 50-year expertise in chemistry, toxicology, biochemistry and entomology who seeks to alleviate pain in human and companion animals. (See news story). They also know him as a fellow who likes to have fun.

Fun? Hammock and Morisseau, aka "The Splash Brothers," launched the annual Bruce Hammock Water Balloon Battle, aka "Bruce's Big Balloon Battle at Briggs" and "Fifteen Minutes of Aim," 16 years ago. This year's event takes place at 3 p.m., Friday, July 12 on the northwest lawn of Briggs Hall on Kleiber Hall Drive.  First (starting at 1 p.m.), the water warriors fill 2000 balloons. Then, at Morisseau's signal, the "15 Minutes of Aim" begins. When they diminish and deplete the water balloon supply, they empty tubs of water on unsuspecting lab mates.  Other labs join in the fun, as do bystanders.

But back to the creative water balloon poster.

Morisseau, tongue in cheek (and probably balloon in hand and prospective target in eyesight), extolled the virtues of Water Balloon Fights, aka WBF, on his poster:

Hypothesis: Work is very stressful, and stress is known to affect health and happiness, thus leading to a short and sad life. We hypothesize that a little fun at work can bring a lot of goodness to the lab microcosm.

Methods: Get some people, as shown on the made-up graph at right: more people more fun, but optimal in the 30-50 ranges.

Fill the balloons. This is a group activity for team-building purpose.

Divide the people into fair and equal groups: the bosses against the rest of the crew.

Devise advance tactical and strategical battle plan: Let's get everybody wet.

Results: A lab without WBF yields infightings and conflicts, as well as sick-looking dudes. A lab with WBF yields to harmony at the workplace with healthy food practices and buffed guys.

Conclusions: Water balloon fights provide team building efforts, stress relief and healthy exercise. We recommend that any workplace establish water balloon fights on a yearly or twice yearly basis.

Morisseau illustrated his poster with contrived before-and-after photos of Hammock: before: a scrawny scientist and after, a buffed-up athlete. The poster now hangs outside their offices in Briggs Hall.

Disclaimer: Professor Hammock is known for his athleticism--from hiking mountains to kayaking. And the Hammock lab is known for its strong camaraderie. Indeed, not many scientists can draw 100 of their lab alumni from all over the world to a reunion!

By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

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